Mark Emmert tells schools NIL changes are coming in memo


It looks like the NCAA is really moving forward with its name, image, likeness rule changes.

Ahead of a Division I Council meeting in which NIL proposals will be considered, NCAA president Mark Emmert issued a memo to schools saying that he plans to institute temporary policies to allow all NIL opportunities for all student athletes if the rules aren’t changed by July.

Essentially, he’s telling the NCAA’s schools that the rules governing how student-athletes may profit from their celebrity are going to change, one way or another.

Here’s the full letter, obtained by the Associated Press’ Ralph D. Russo:

The key portion of the memo:

Our current rules, as you know, completely prohibit NIL activities and therefore are in conflict with state NIL laws. Schools and athletes following the NIL provisions of their state laws should not be concerned about eligibility issues. Nor should student-athletes in states without NIL laws be deprived of the opportunity to engage in appropriate NIL activities. We must not allow such obvious inequity to occur. We need to pass new rules. 

If, however, NCAA rule changes are not in place by July, please know that I will work with our governance bodies to develop temporary policies that assure student-athletes that they will not become trapped in such circumstances and that all will have NIL opportunities. I have directed my staff to create proposals to this end. We will provide more details next week as this approach is reviewed by the NCAA Board of Governors and the divisional governance bodies. 

Emmert is making this move as a number of individual states prepare to enact NIL laws. 

Starting on July 1, student-athletes attending schools in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas will be be able to start accepting endorsements and other deals, which could obviously wreak havoc with the NCAA’s nationwide operations. Several other states, including California, have laws scheduled to take effect in the next few years.

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In his memo, Emmert reiterated his hope that Congress will act on the NIL debate and pass a single, national law for schools to follow, but that looks unlikely to happen in the time frame needed. There is also the pending Alston v. NCAA antitrust case in the Supreme Court, which could define just how much power the NCAA actually has in defining amateurism vs. professional sports.

With all of that pending, Emmert is taking much of the uncertainty out of the Division I Council’s upcoming meeting. Of course, plenty can happen between now and July 1.

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